These CDs cost far less than downloads from the internet, and unlike downloads they are things, which I prefer. When you drop a Wagner opera on CD on your foot, it hurts. That's what I call real value.
I am off this evening to see Howard Shore's and David Cronenberg's much maligned The Fly at Los Angeles Opera; my own opinions of the thing should appear here tomorrow.
For many, including myself, the major attraction of this LA Opera season is the launching of the company's first production of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, under the direction of Achim Freyer.
When the Opera's website was first updated for the current season, these graphics gave a vague hint of what the LA Ring will look like:
Recently, the Opera has begun to release additional photos, although it is unclear whether they represent work in progress or final production decisions. Here are the three that are currently up (albeit well hidden) on the Opera's website.
From Das Rheingold:
Strange women lying in ponds may be no basis for a system of government, but similarly unusual dames basking about in a river make a perfectly acceptable jumping off point for a vast music drama. Welcome if you will Woglinde, Wellgunde and Flosshilde, the Rhinemaidens:
Meanwhile, toiling beneath the earth in an entry-level position in the mineral trade, this must certainly be if not the Nibelung at least a Nibelung:
From Die Walküre:
I am thinking this final photo represents the climactic confrontation between Wotan (note the single eye, best seen in the full size version on the Opera site) and recumbent Brünnhilde, who may already be undergoing a course of magical sleep therapy, witnessed by the horses that she and her sisters rode in on:
From these photos, it appears that all of the expected hallmarks of a Freyer production -- expressionist flamboyance, enormous papier-mâché heads -- are in place. Also apparent is that Freyer is setting his production in a recognizable version of the world that Wagner actually wrote, not in some politico-feverdream "commentary" on that world. No hydroelectric dams, no skinned rabbits, no steamboats, no explosives belts, just gods, dwarfs, and flying horses -- with sewing machine bobbins on their heads, but let that pass.
Achim Freyer is a genuinely interesting theatrical figure and the purely musical components of this production are in good hands, so I remain essentially optimistic and continue to look forward to the premiere run beginning in February.
Photos by Monika Rittershaus, via Los Angeles Opera.
Additional credit where due: Out West Arts shared small versions of these photos back on Sept. 9, along with several others whose source I haven't yet traced. I am particularly intrigued by the shifty gent in the red-checked trousers -- who can only be Loge, right?